By Nick Hampton
CNHI News Service
MUSKOGEE, Okla. —
Basically, baseball is a game of execution.
And the Stillwater Pioneers executed on both offense and defense and took advantage of several gifts by the Muskogee defense as they scored a 10-1 win in district action Monday evening at the Rougher Field.
“They put some pressure on us. This is a good ball club,” Pioneer coach Tony Holt said. “They’ve beaten some good clubs already, including Broken Arrow.”
The tone for the game was set in the first inning. With one out, Pioneer hitter Carson Teel dribbled a ball in front of the plate that Rougher catcher Trey Gatzman fielded but threw past first base, allowing Teel to go to second. One out later he scored on a base hit by Taylor Throne.
Both coaches agreed that the game turned in the second inning as Muskogee wasted a golden opportunity to get the lead. Harris Jones and Gatzman started the inning with back-to-back hits and were sacrificed to second and third base by Tyler Bowden. Designated hitter Casey Winters bounced to Throne at third, who gunned down Jones trying to score for the second out. Ethan Barton walked to load the bases for the Roughers, but Tony Horn struck out to the end the inning and keep Muskogee scoreless.
“It was a big time momentum shift if we score there,” Muskogee coach Jeremy Griffin said. “After spotting them a run we come back and load the bases with a chance to take that momentum back and we do nothing.”
The Stillwater head man agreed.
“You’re right. I think that kept the momentum on our side for a little while,” said Holt. “We got some key hits later and that helped. I thought they competed well. Coach Griffin has done a great job with the program over here.”
Muskogee’s lone run came, ironically on an error in the third inning. Cody Floyd bunted and Pioneer pitcher Sam Kraybill made a poor throw to first that allowed Floyd to reach second. He moved to third base on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch. Defensively, Muskogee (3-3, 1-2) committed six errors in the game that accounted for five unearned runs for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers (4-2, 3-0) were paced by catcher Michael Higgins who was 4 for 4 with an RBI, and designated hitter Gage Hines who was three-for-four with three RBI’s. Kraybill pitched five innings to get the win for the Pioneers, scattering four hits.
Higgins gave a lot of the credit for his performance at the plate to the Pioneer coaching staff.
“I’ve been working with coaches on my swing the past couple of weeks,” said Higgins. “I’ve just got to go to the plate and not over think things and do what the coaches have taught me to do and it just worked out for me today.”
“We lost a lot of folks to graduation so our team in young and I think you saw that tonight. We had an error on a bunt situation and we had some base running mistakes but by and large we’re coming along,” said Holt.
The two teams will meet again 6 p.m. Tuesday, this time in Stillwater, for more district action.